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Old 03-25-2006, 11:32 PM
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Default Good Reason to "Cycle" Your Viv

Well, this is proof that its probably a good idea to let your viv grow in/settle before you add frogs to it for a couple of weeks. I set this viv up a couple weeks ago and I was just letting it grow in and what not. All the plants were doing well, my broms even began to grow holder roots already (whatever you call them).

Then I noticed that it looked like my background was shrinking...




It most definately was. It had shrunk so bad that I could fit a sharpie inbetween the background and the back/side of the tank. You can even see in some spots how the silicone was stretched out.


After I ripped all the plants out and everything, I just put my hand underneath the background and there was a huge space all along the bottom. I just pulled the whole background out as one piece. It came out WAY TOO EASILY. I'm glad I waited to put frogs in it... :shock:




Could you imagine if I had some little thumbs in there? I woulda never found them. My only guess as to why this happened is that I might have put the silicone/coco fiber on too early. Maybe the GS hadn't hardened enough yet. I know I waited about 8 hrs, but maybe a full day is what it really needs.

This is what it looked like before!
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Old 03-25-2006, 11:34 PM
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On my latest viv, the sides have shrunk a little bit also. But I waited a full 24 hours before I added silicone and coco. I've never had that happen before w/GS. What's goin' on?! :shock:

EDIT: Crap, I just check the sides and they've actually shrunk alot! What's gone wrong?! The most I can do now is stuff coco fiber into the exposed spots. The GS that is on the surface is alright, but deeper in the corner, it has pulled away about 1/2".
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Old 03-25-2006, 11:40 PM
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That's Crazy! I have had GS shrink a little bit in some of my tanks, but not that much. How soon after did you add the plants? Maybe the introduction of water has something to do with it. I know if you spray it with water it is supposed to cure faster. I'm just guessing.

The tank looked great, sorry you had to tear it apart. What are you going to do? Maybe you can silicone it to the back and fill the gaps with silicone?
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Old 03-25-2006, 11:45 PM
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I let the GS cure more than 24 hours before I put on the silicone and cocofiber, then I didn't add plants until about 2 days after I finished the background. That should have been enough for it to cure, shouldn't it?
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Old 03-25-2006, 11:46 PM
 
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for great stuff tanks i totally black silicone any part of the glass the GS will be in contact with. GS will always shrink some, but if you have spray it onto siliconed glass it will stick better and shrink substantially less, just straight on glass it will always easily peel away like that after it is cured. That being said, i usually wait a week or so after i spray in the great stuff to add the coco (unless i'm pressing it straight into the GS as it cures to skip silicone step). During this time it allows me to fill in any gaps left by shringing GS with more GS. At the end of the week period i'll add the coco and then give it another 5 days or so before i add plants and then frogs. So usually about 2 weeks from start to addition of frogs. Patience is a virtue in this hobby (although i often lack it )
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Old 03-25-2006, 11:47 PM
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Maybe it has something to do with not having enough air circulation during curing.
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Old 03-25-2006, 11:48 PM
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I added plants after a good solid night of the coco/silicone sat and cured. I'm gonna redo the tank, but I might redo it as a vert. I think a 15H vert would look kinda interesting and neat. I'm just glad I didn't put frogs in it.

I WAS gonna just stuff lots of long strand sphagnum moss in the gaps and call it a day, but it just felt like it was a band-aid fix and not a real address to the issue.

The good news is that it hasn't happened in my other GS/Silicone/Coco fiber tanks. Knock on wood...
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Old 03-25-2006, 11:49 PM
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I've had that happen to a lesser degree...
I heard the solution is to do small amounts of foam at a time...when you do a massive amount, the center takes a lot longer to cure, and in some cases fails to cure, thus making the stuff warp and shrink.
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Old 03-26-2006, 12:01 AM
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That sounds like what happened. The places where the background is shrinking is the back left corner which happens to be the thickest part of the background. I just hope it stops before I get the frogs for it. I don't have the money or time to completely redo mine, so if the gaps get larger, I guess I'll have to stuff sphagnum in there. I don't think it's happening to the extent that Frogtofall experienced, because the back looks like it's still firmly attached.
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Old 03-26-2006, 12:04 AM
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Thats what I thought. Then another few days went by and it got worse. Don't mess around man, stuff that joker with some sphagnum!! Heh.
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Old 03-26-2006, 12:49 AM
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I also had some shrinkage on a small mockup viv that I built to learn the process. I had noticed on the GS Gaps & Cracks can it says it cures rigid & trims easy. I believe that this is what I used on the mockup. Now on my display viv that I am in the middle of building I am using the GS Window & Door formula. It says it remains soft and flexible and permits expansion and contraction. I am hoping this wonít shrink like the other stuff. The other deference is G & C is waterproof while W & D is water resistant. I donít think that is a issue since it will be sealed with silicone anyway.
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Old 03-26-2006, 02:11 AM
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Actually that's a good reason why you should test a material before you use it in a viv. I just finished a larger GS background, but I've been working on it outside of the viv since before Christmas. I started with what was basically a large retangle of GS and shaped it from there. GS is not exactly a structually stable material because if it is cut, gets wet, and ages, it changes shape as can be seen in the pics above. I probably filled in gaps around 5 times during this process because of it's structual instability. I think the only thing I'll use it for now is to take the place of the large amounts of dirt I use to back fill the wood in my tank. Too many variables for me to work with it.



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Old 03-26-2006, 04:32 AM
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From the looks of the pictures it looks like it may not have cured properly as well. I had a tank where it cured very strange... Not sure if it was caused by a bad can or just improper use.
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Old 03-26-2006, 05:21 AM
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Yeah, I believe adding the silicone/coco too early kept it from curing fully. You can tell on the back b/c its a darker yellow and there are little tiny bubbles all over like it never really cured. I dunno, hopefully it won't happen again.

But it really is a good practice in general to just let a viv sit w/o frogs for a couple of weeks before adding them to it, if not for this reason but for others like cracks, landscaping changes, strange growths or even insect pests that you find.
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Old 03-26-2006, 05:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogtofall

But it really is a good practice in general to just let a viv sit w/o frogs for a couple of weeks before adding them to it, if not for this reason but for others like cracks, landscaping changes, strange growths or even insect pests that you find.
Not to mention chemical off gassing...
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Old 03-26-2006, 05:44 AM
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That's pretty scary. I wonder on average how long people wait before they add frogs to a brand new viv....
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Old 03-26-2006, 05:48 AM
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I used GS Windows & Doors on my tank and have seen no shrinkage as of yet. It's been set up for about a month now. I did put silicone on the sides which i'm sure helps keep the GS from pulling away from the glass. Also, i put the GS on in several thin layers which probably allowed it to dry all the way through without shrinkage.
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Old 03-26-2006, 02:42 PM
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Iíve done two vivs with Handi-Foam and havenít noticed any shrinkage. One thing I have seen is that if you put it on really thickly (like deeper than 2Ē) you can end up with a volcano affect, where the uncured foam erupts through a fisher in the cured foam. This happened to me once and it was within a day of applying the foam. It happened in the base of an elevated pond. When I left everything was looking good. When I came back the next day the pond had been filled in by the eruption.

I also find that Handi-Foam makes a pretty strong bond to glass.
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Old 03-26-2006, 09:23 PM
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Handi foam is just so darn expensive. Around here you can get 3 cans of GS for the price of 1 can of handi-foam. Dang ol' prices... :?
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Old 03-26-2006, 09:27 PM
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Yes,

But you donít save any money if the stuff shrinks, and pops off the back.
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaSlackMan
That's pretty scary. I wonder on average how long people wait before they add frogs to a brand new viv....
I havent used any kind of backgrounds on my vivs but I always wait a few months (usually 2) before adding frogs.


Chris,
I'm planning to use handi foam on my next viv and it is very comforting to hear that it sticks to glass. I have two cans now in storage and was hoping to use it on a hex, at least a 20 gal. Do you think this will be enough. I dont remember if you answered this question of mine in another post or not. Thanks
Also since you said it sticks to glass should I not use black silicone to cover the glass before spraying the viv like black jungle does with GS?
Thanks again.
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Old 03-26-2006, 11:51 PM
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Cesar (spelling?),

I havenít used black silicone on the back. I thought that the purpose of the black silicone on the glass was simply to hide the Great Stuff. Personally, Iím not sure that the black silicone looks any better than the black foam. I should have added that neither of my Handi-Foam vivs has had any water added to them yet. So if water has something to do with the shrinkage than Handi-Foam may be no better than Great Stuff. I think Iíve heard of Great Stuff shrinking before the viv is completed though.

With respect to using Handi Foam on your hex, I used almost three cans to cover the back of my first Handi-Foam viv. The above substrate area is roughly 30Ē X 23Ē. I used very thick beads of foam and made it deep enough to cover a bunch of those plastic mesh pots.



I have stopped working on that viv due to a design flaw that I have to fix. In the mean time I started a 37 gallon viv, which has roughly the same back pane area. That viv is taking me less than 1, 12Oz can to cover. Iím using a much thinner layer. I have heard of people cracking glass with foam so I would caution you to use thin beads and do small areas. Plan on the project taking you a week or more and just do a little every night. Hexagon tanks are expensive.
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Old 03-27-2006, 12:04 AM
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Thanks, yea you spelt my name right.
You new project looks great. Im also a very patient man, I will do as you suggested and go in little layers. In fact I may not build my new hex viv for a few months.
Is that a future river I see in your viv?
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Old 03-27-2006, 12:34 AM
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Yes Cesar,
That is a little river, but the picture is of my old viv project, which is on hold. I donít like the vent that I added to the bottom of the front pane. Iím also not so happy with the depth of the pond. Right now Iím working on a standard 37 gallon. The new tank is a little narrower but it is coming out pretty nicely. One problem that Iím having with the new viv is Iíve been using Handi-Foam with coco bedding pressed into the wet foam. This method is not working all that well for me. Even if you apply the coco bedding immediately it doesnít stick all that well. Iím not sure if Iím going to try the gorilla glue method, silicone method or just leave it as is. If I have time Iíll take a picture of it tomorrow and add it to your Handi-Foam techniques thread. This is beginning to be a bit of a hijack (Sorry Frogtofall)
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Old 03-27-2006, 12:47 AM
 
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Chris,

To have one last word on the hijack topic, have you thought about what it'll look like once planted? I have become less and less careful with coating greatstuff because once it's fully planted, you can barely see it, and once the fig/moss/algae has filled in, you can't see a thing.

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Old 03-27-2006, 01:03 AM
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Your probably right Solly,

Iím not in any hurry to finish this viv though. We are having our kitchen redone. The kitchen is right above my fishroom. Iím told that there will be an enormous amount of dust and other particulate matter that is going fall into the basement when they rip up the kitchen floor and subfloor. The house is very old, so Lead, asbestos, and whatnot are a concern. I think Iím better off moving the fish and frogs into the garage and just emptying the basement before the project starts. Since I have to retool the plumbing in the garage and tile the floor where the fish and frogs will go, thereís no reason to rush the new viv.

O.K. Iíll shut up now before the mods start deleting my posts for hijacking.
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Old 03-27-2006, 02:48 AM
 
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sorry double post
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Old 03-27-2006, 02:49 AM
 
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Ok friends, I have had the same problem, and I also have solved it! Let me share my thoughts on why this happens, and to share my solution for this problem to my herper brothers and sisters. I have a 42 gal hex and the first set up was very sweet and two months later I come home and to my dismay the whole back had fallen off the in the same fashion as others on this board. Well after I took the time to study the back, it would seem that in the process of expansion it produces a gas of some sort that pushes the foam away from the glass from the center outward as it cures. So here is what I came up with to remedy this effect. When the skin cures to the touch and it can support a good push without poking through place a weight on top of the foam and let it sit overnight. Then repeat on each side. I did this and my foam has neither shrunk nor peeled away from the background. here are some pics to demonstrate what I mean.






The weight must be heavy enough to keep the foam in contact with the glass the whole time. I would recommend about 5lbs to do the trick. I used my balljoint puller tool it had a good weight to it. I hope this helps everyone who has had problems with their backgrounds.

James
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Old 03-27-2006, 04:20 AM
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Alright you hijackers!!! Haha, just kidding. I don't mind a little hijack every now and then.

James. Thanks for your input on a possible solution to the problem. I might have to give that a try on my next viv. I got 2 in the works.
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Old 03-27-2006, 04:35 AM
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Another 42g Oceanic Cherry Hex...... 8)
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Old 03-27-2006, 04:55 AM
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Yeah. We should be the three amigos or something. :lol:
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Old 03-27-2006, 06:54 AM
 
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lol, yep I am just about to redo mine also minus the foam wall, that will remain, but I am redoing the rest. I am about to purchase a mist king. One question do you think I could drill the bottom of my hex or is it tempered?

James

ps. sorry about the hijack
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Old 03-27-2006, 07:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkspowers
I used my balljoint puller tool it had a good weight to it.
Good idea, i never thought i'd use that thing again after rebuilding my front-end!
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Old 03-27-2006, 08:23 AM
 
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yeah same here. I changed out my axles a while ago, and to build my tool collection I buy them when I need one I don't have. So I found a new use for my tool. I guess it could be a foam pusher tool also. lol
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Old 03-28-2006, 03:11 AM
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One thing that I found to be a big factor with GS is that the glass that it is being applied to must be clean and oily substance free. I also think that being in a low humidity area (Colorado- less than 20%) allows the GS to cure better. I have set up 5 vivs now, and none of them have pulled away from the glass a fraction of an inch. They are over 2 months old. Then again, maybe it was just luck!!
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